A brief History of Tollesbury Village

Situated on the Essex coast at the mouth of the river Blackwater, Tollesbury lies 9 miles east of the historic port of Maldon and 12 miles south of Britain’s oldest recorded town, Colchester. From an historical and geographical viewpoint the village has a fascinating past…

  • Featured in the Domesday book of 1086, the earliest settlers would have found an abundance of fish and shellfish, a fertile valley location and ample fresh drinking water from the many spring fed tributaries.
  • It is believed the name Tollesbury is derived from Saxon times, as ‘bury’ is distinctly of Saxon origin.
  • From its geographical location Tollesbury has for centuries relied on harvests from both the land and sea to sustain its community, By the late 17th century the village benefitted from a flourishing oyster industry, which is still alive today.
  • It is affectionately known as the ‘village of the plough and sail’. As you enter Tollesbury it’s unlikely you’ll miss the village sign which features on one side a ploughman and his team of horses working the land to the water’s edge, with fishing smacks on the river; on the reverse are the weather boarded sail lofts and alongside is depicted the yacht ‘Endeavour II’ – the famous 1937 British challenger for the America’s Cup, manned by Tollesbury sailors.
  • By the 19th century Tollesbury had grown in prosperity and population. A census of 1851 showed the village to be fully self sufficient with a host of thriving businesses; from blacksmiths to bricklayers and thatchers; from shoe makers to watch makers, bakers, butchers and greengrocers. There was even a brickworks and iron foundry.
  • In the early 1900s the Great Eastern Railway opened a line running from Kelvedon (on the main London line) through Tiptree, Tolleshunt Knights and into Tollesbury, continuing to the village pier. Sadly the pier was eventually closed in 1921 and at the outset of World War Two it was destroyed to prevent the possibility of an invasion.

Today, Tollesbury remains a major attraction for sailing enthusiasts with its thriving marina and boat yards; the village is also renowned for the peace and tranquility it offers walkers and bird spotters, with miles of perfect isolation around its sea wall; the Tollesbury Wick Marshes – having been adopted by the Essex Wildlife Trust and designated a protected conservation area – can now be enjoyed as a nature reserve that boasts 600 acres of grazing marshland, reed beds and mudflats.